S2S scientists provide the monitoring for manatees released back into the wild to ensure successful adaptation.
Sea to Shore Alliance is a member of the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), a cooperative group of more than two dozen private and governmental agencies that pool resources to rehabilitate injured manatees and then release them back into their natural habitat. Each year many manatees are injured or become sick and are rescued and treated at critical care facilities such as SeaWorld, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, or Miami Seaquarium. Exposure to red tide, cold stress, and disease are all natural problems that can affect manatees. Man-made threats include boat strikes, crushing by flood gates or locks, and entanglement in or ingestion of fishing gear.
The Role of Sea to Shore Alliance
Sea to Shore Alliance has a unique role in the partnership, because once a manatee is rehabilitated and released, we are responsible for tracking and monitoring that animal to ensure that it is properly adjusting to life in the wild. If we document serious issues with the animal’s physical condition or behavior we can recommend that the animal be re-captured and returned to a facility for further rehabilitation. By doing so, we help to ensure the well-being of each manatee and the information we collect is used to implement improved rehabilitation methods which increase their chances of survival in the wild. Our ultimate goal is to expand the number of “successful” manatee releases, where the animal re-adapts to the wild without additional intervention from humans.
MRP Success Story
One MRP success story is the manatee “Amber”, who was rescued as an orphaned calf from Blue Spring when she was only 68 lbs. After rehabilitating at SeaWorld Orlando she was released at Blue Spring in February 2009. Amber adapted quickly to life in the wild and spent the summer in Lake Dexter and Lake Woodruff in the St. Johns River, then returned to Blue Spring when winter began. Since then she has been spotted at the spring every winter and has raised at least two calves.